My life in boxes

I’m writing this while waiting for the moving company to arrive and pick up most of my worldly possessions. They’ll be put on a boat and shipped across the ocean. I won’t be reunited with them until several weeks from now.


Not pictured here is my bicycle, because once packed it was too big to fit in my friend’s car to take home. The movers will pick it up from the bicycle shop in town. So. My life consists of eleven (11) boxes — and the two suitcases I will take with me. It doesn’t seem like much once it’s all stacked in a tidy pile in the middle of my sitting room. Five (5) of these boxes are books and one crate contains only binders filled with articles from my research. I am a researcher.

If I were staying in the UK, the pile would be a bit bigger: I’m leaving behind various electronics that won’t work Stateside. But not more than another row of boxes; I accurately gauged how many boxes I would be shipping, surprisingly enough.

After five and a half years, my time in Scotland, in the UK, and in Europe, is drawing to a close. I didn’t know when I moved here in September 2008 that I would be staying for half a decade. Who knows what the next chapter will bring? And yet my ex-pat heart hopes it won’t be too long until find myself with another pile of boxes stacked in another living room, waiting for the international movers to arrive.

New Title

It snowed today. It was the universe tossing confetti at some very good news! You may now address me as Dr Chera. (And here I take a bow.)

I passed my viva with minor (mostly typographical) corrections and advice for further revision for future publication. I’ll rest for a couple of days, polish off the corrections in a day or two, and then it will be done and dusted. Huzzah!

Needless to say, after a two-hour defense, followed by a three-hour lunch with my examiners and supervisor, two hours of chatting and cake with colleagues, and an hour and a half choir rehearsal, I am exhausted. But I am also starting to feel pleased. I’m sure to feel even better once I’ve had a good sleep.

To tournament!

Today is my viva. For fun, I’m listening to the playlist I made for my Pooka novels — which were loosely inspired from my Ph.D. research. I’m going into the Viva with black owls with yellow eyes — the Pooka, surely, is going to help me with the task ahead.

This song is about the Pooka, of course. Commonly in the form of a black horse, but don’t forget to look for its gold eyes…

Off I go!


While going through some papers in my office this week, I came across a print out of the Old English poem Deor, which we read in the Medieval Reading Group last year. The poem in Old English is beautiful with its rhythm and alliteration, which, unfortunately, a Modern English translation can only hint at.

The poem tells of several different episodes from legend and history in which individuals met disaster, and the final stanza touches on the poet’s own troubles. Each stanza closes with the refrain: Þæs ofereode,  |   þisses swa mæg.’ That passed away, and so may this from me.

You can read the poem online (both in Old and Modern English): here. It’s a slightly different translation from the one I have printed out from the reading group.

The anxious, grieving man, deprived of joy,
Lives with a darkened mind; it seems to him
His share of sorrows will be everlasting;
But he can think that in this world wise God
Brings change continually: to many a man
He offers grace, assured prosperity.
But others he assigns a share of woe.
About my own plight now I wish to speak:
Once I was a minstrel of the Heodenings,
Dear to my patron, and my name was Deor.
I held for many years a fine position
And loyal lord, until Heorrenda now,
That skilful poet, has received my lands,
Which once my lord and master gave to me.
That passed away, and so may this from me.

Rumour has it that a number of years ago the School of English was experiencing some upheaval, and that during this time faculty were known to recite the refrain of this poem: Þæs ofereode,  |   þisses swa mæg. It’s not a bad motto.